The Bay Colony Community Yacht Club was recently dedicated a “Delaware Clean Marina,” only the seventh in the state to receive the recognition by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
According to Board President Allan Finlayson, the developer had always managed the marina and sold slips, and once a certain percentage of owner slips was reached, in August 2006, management was turned over to the five individuals that make up the Board of Directors. Early on, they had the goal of the distinction of a Delaware Clean Marina and started work on earning that title.
“We set about to establish the priority of increasing the value of everyone’s investment. Being the largest wet-slip marina in Delaware, with a 250 slip capacity, we had a high priority of environmental responsibility,” said Finlayson. “We have the potential to have significant impact on the Indian River Bay and we wanted that to be a positive impact.”
According to DNREC, the Clean Marina Program — a partnership between DNREC and Delaware’s Sea Grant Program at the College of Marine Science, University of Delaware — is a voluntary, incentive-based initiative that encourages marina operators to implement pollution prevention measures associated with vessel maintenance and repair; petroleum storage and transfer; sewage disposal; solid, liquid and hazardous wastes; stormwater runoff; and facilities management. These measures allow marinas to improve water quality, reduce costs associated with waste disposal and generate new sources of revenue.
Finlayson said the state provides an outline for the operations and maintenance plan and then rules and regulations needed to be drafted. Bay Colony updated their Operations and Maintenance Plan to require boating patrons to follow strict marina guidelines regarding vessel maintenance and fish cleaning in the marina basin.
The yacht club maintains oil- and gas-spill containment and boom equipment on site, in case a spill occurs. They also implemented a “carry in/carry out” waste disposal policy that requires patrons to take responsibility for transporting wastes out of the marina. According to Finlayson, the plan also needed to include regulations for stormwater runoff, fire protection and emergency procedures.
“The process took about a year and it involves a very strict and approved operations and maintenance plan. The state provides the outline and then we developed the plan within those elements. We had to draft rules and regulations and ways to enforce them. We were plowing new ground and starting from scratch,” he explained.
As a parallel effort to their Delaware Clean Marina certification, the Bay Colony Yacht Club had a new operations center built, and just recently celebrated an open house for owners and guests. Before they had the facility, they would operate out of each other’s homes or garages. The building offers permanent restrooms for patrons, and an office and storage area for maintenance. They also employ a full-time seasonal dock-master for the summer months.
“It’s the real centerpiece of it,” said Finlayson of the new operations center.
DNREC made and inspection of the facility and saw firsthand the new operations and maintenance plan at work although, at times, it seemed the program was a work in progress.
“We’d get to that higher level and they’d fine-tune it again,” said Finlayson. “But we are very pleased with the experience. We learned a lot and we are a far better marina for it.”
Because of the recognition for environmental stewardship, they are now allowed to fly the Delaware Clean Marina flag, use the Clean Marina logo on stationary and received a signed plaque from Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. One of the benefits of being a certified clean marina is the availability of state and federal grants because of their accreditation — not to mention the positive environmental impacts.
The program gives out cost-share grants to help implement pollution reduction measures. According to DNREC, since the start of the program in 2003, more than $254,000 in cost-share funds for the purchase of pump-out systems, oil-spill kits and educational signage have been awarded.
“As part of the certification, it makes it easier for us to get state and federal grants,” shared Finlayson. “And if there is an opportunity to make it a better place, it adds value to everyone’s investment and that what we wanted to do — to ensure and improve the value of everyone’s investment.”
Although their investments is an important part of what the group set out to protect, they also realize and appreciate the powerfully positive environmental impact being a certified Delaware Clean Marina brings.
“The Clean Marina program is a nationwide program that some states have mandated, but for Delaware it’s on a voluntary basis,” explained Finlayson. “It’s a real satisfaction. It was a lot of hard work to draft the regulations and get them approved, and we are real pleased and very proud that we are only the seventh marina in the state to do so.
“For a voluntary organization, it’s a real credit,” he added. “If we were a business and were forced to do it, it would be one thing, but we are not. We are like a condominium, we’re actually a slip-ominium. And to step up and volunteer, we didn’t need that extra work. But, we thought it was important. We are all responsible for the health of the Indian River Bay.”